DER Documentary

Cowboy & Maria in Town


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by Les McLaren and Annie Stiven
color, 59 min, 1991




Non-profit and K-12 pricing also available
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Attracted by the myths of town life and the chance of work, people from villages all over Papua New Guinea have come to the towns. Cowboy and Maria in Town tells the story of two such migrants living in the settlements that surround the capital, Port Moresby.

Cowboy is a reformed 'rascal'- unemployed and illiterate with a criminal record. He invents an electric guitar out of scrap materials and plays his distinctive rock-and-roll on street corners, earning just enough for his family to get by.

Maria lives an equally precarious existence. Seasonal gardening and her husband's small income as a night security guard are their sole means of survival. Only her resilient humor keeps her going when inter-tribal conflicts, inflamed by frustration and alcohol, erupt in the settlement.

Cowboy and Maria are vital players in the new urban Papua New Guinea. Their interwoven stories highlight the consequences of urban drift, where traditional and Western values meet. These intelligent and determined optimists are far from being Third World victims; they go about their daily lives with humor and imagination, rising to the enormous cultural changes that confront them.

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